When those working with Dress for Success Kingston opened their doors yesterday morning, what they found was disappointing, to say the least.
Sometime over the weekend from Friday, Feb. 21 to Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, the local charitable organization had been broken into. For seven years, Dress for Success has provided women in the Kingston community with clothing, guidance, and mentorship, aiming to empower women to achieve financial independence. If a woman in Kingston finds herself jobless and without the funds to acquire the right clothing to secure a new job, Dress for Success is there to help, while also providing a network of support, and development tools. Since 2013, the organization has served over 1,123 women in the area.
On Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, the positive, empowering atmosphere that normally fills the organization’s space at 845 Princess Street was replaced with “turmoil, chaos and disappointment,” the organization said in a press release. Among those items taken were clothing, footwear, and accessories, but the thieves seem to have targeted the organization’s stock of makeup and costume jewelry, Executive Director Lindsey MacDonald explained in an interview on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.
“They took all the makeup and all the jewelry out of the case, as well as on our dresser and our display – It’s pretty naked at this point, there’s nothing left on it,” MacDonald said, noting that over $7,800 worth of inventory had been taken, some new and some gently used.
On top of that, many donations the organization had collected for an upcoming silent auction were also taken, MacDonald expressed.
“We had already started collecting items, so that’s unfortunate because we had artists that had donated some things for that silent auction, so that’s terrible,” she said. “It’s just wrong and sad. We feel violated, but we have to move on.”
And that’s exactly what they’re doing. Both yesterday and today, the staff at Dress for Success carried on with their scheduled appointments, meeting with women and helping to set them on the right path for securing a job and financial stability.
“We still have clothing, it’s not like they pulled up a big truck and cleaned the place out,” MacDonald explained, noting that Dress for Success didn’t have cameras or a security system.
“But we will now!” she said. “We’re non-profit, they’re expensive, we haven’t really had the money to invest in that, but I think at this point we just need to.”
Because a vast majority of the stock at Dress for Success has been donated by the community, MacDonald and the organization’s Board of Directors felt it was important to let the community know this theft took place – after all, their loss is a loss for the entire community. But they also wanted their neighbouring businesses to know that the theft had taken place, MacDonald said.
“Are we asking the community for hordes of donations? No. I think it’s more about creating an awareness that this is happening and this has happened in our community, and for our immediate neighbours to know that this is happening and to further secure themselves,” she said.
“Were not immune to it, even if we’re doing good work in the community, people will still take. Penny and I, who work here on a daily basis, we spend a lot of our time here during the week, and so you feel very violated, both personally, and also from the standpoint of the organization,” she continued. “Our community supports us so much that we are their agency, in a sense, so we should really be transparent about what happened. We’re a community agency, we’re a public, community agency, and everything we had one site was donated by community members.”
MacDonald said that, as always, donations to Dress from Success are welcome, and that the organization is definitely lacking in costume jewelry and makeup at this point. Donation times for Dress for Success are Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“It’s sad, but we’re definitely focused on moving on,” MacDonald said. “We have clients this afternoon that need fittings for outfits to interview for jobs tomorrow. And, that is what we are all about: serving women in our community.” For more information on Dress for Success Kingston, click here.